Rain Music – Patrick Swenson

Rain Music

Summary

At loose ends after a nasty divorce, Tip Truman accepts an old friend's offer to come and work at a Washington resort while he writes music. As soon as he arrives, he senses something mysterious and magical about the heavy rain that falls, and the music it inspires in him.

Review

It’s always nice to read something that’s (very broadly) from my neck of the woods. I only wish there were still as much rain locally as in this book.

I liked some things about this book – the characters were engaging and the magic had the potential to be interesting. But, overall, I did feel it had more potential than it actually delivered.

The magic is never really made clear, and I couldn’t see a clear logic to how most of it worked. There’s a magic drug – Moss – that’s just … magic. It’s made by magic, and it gives you magic powers – somehow. And it’s not clear which powers or why. There’s a witch – Allie – who makes the drug, but she makes only a brief appearance, though parts of the story circle around her. In the prologue (which I believe takes place quite late in the story), she disappears (I think). Then there are lot of other bits and pieces and hints of magic, but I’m sorry to say that they never really made any sense to me. Even the association of rain and magic is inconsistent. I’m sorry about it, because the elements we do see seemed interesting.

The characters, though engaging, are equally inconsistent, and their motivations sometimes very thin. While the protagonist is invited to the central location by his close buddy, they hardly interact thereafter. One young man forgoes a menial job for the promise of money, but then somehow is willing to go much further, though it’s not clear why. No one holds it against him. One key recurring dream feels much more manufactured than organic, and that’s true of the villain’s motivations as well. The protagonists are desperate to keep the villain from achieving something, and yet they make it possible to do so, for no real reason. Desperately searching for a friend, our hero nonetheless somehow skips a whole day that we don’t hear about. Overall, there’s just a lot of characters doing what the plot requires.

A strength and weakness of the book is its description of musical structure. A key character is writing a symphony, and we hear quite a lot about it. I didn’t follow a good part of the terminology, but it’s easy enough to get past it, and probably enjoyable for those better versed in the subject.

The story needs some proofreading as well – there’s one scene where it becomes unclear just which woman is being tortured. My reading was that the wrong name was used on a few occasions (that vanishing witch).

All in all, it felt more like a strong middle draft of a promising novel than an end product.

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